Sleep Deprivation Work Performance

Sleep Deprivation Can Lead to Poor Work Performance

Like eating, drinking and breathing, sleep is essential for our bodies and minds to function. When we aren’t sleeping enough, or not sleeping soundly, we run the risk of damaging both our physical and mental health. In addition, not getting enough sleep can lead to problems in the workplace and in relationships.

So how much sleep do we need? According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults typically need between seven and nine hours. To better assess your needs, the organization created a sleep chart and cautions about sleep debt that occurs when we consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep on average.


Problems with Sleep Deprivation

According to, sleep deprivation costs the U.S. on average $66 per year in health care costs and loss of productivity. And studies at Harvard Medical School have shown that sleep deprivation can cause obesity, and weight gain, heart disease and hypertension. It can even affect the immune system and shorten life expectancy.

Lack of sleep can be very problematic in the workplace, and dangerous for those who operate heavy machinery, work on assembly lines, or drive company vehicles.

Some common work problems associated with sleep deprivation include:

  • Increase in errors
  • Lack of productivity and innovation
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Impatience with others
  • Accidents on the job


Managers: Sleep in the Workplace, How You Can Help

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that 40.6 million U.S. workers don’t get enough sleep. When your employees aren’t coming in rested, it can have far reaching effects.

Don’t wait for employees to fall asleep at their desks, be observant of the signs like decreased productivity, irritability and an increase in simple mistakes. As a manager, be proactive with these simple steps to keep your employees awake and healthy:

  • Encourage employees to take frequent breaks to switch up the monotony of repetitive tasks.
  • Use bright lighting to keep employees alert.
  • Make sure employees are not scheduled for too many late night or overtime shifts. Also, encourage them to take advantage of personal time off.
  • Use a “buddy system.” If one employee notices a coworker looking tired or starting to make mistakes, have he or she encourage the other to take a break.

Photo credit: Bill Smith / CC BY 2.0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *